Talk about an odd couple. The campaigns of Donald Trump and John Kasich joined forces to deny Ted Cruz some vital seats on the rules committee at the Michigan GOP convention.
For the Cruz campaign, they may have been too clever for their own good. Originally, the Kasich and Cruz operations were cooperating to split eight committee members. But, according to the Kasich camp, the Cruz team tried to double-cross them and take all eight seats for themselves.
In the end, Cruz was shut out.
The Michigan delegation picked one Trump supporter, Matt Hall, and one Kasich supporter, Judi Schwalbach, for the two seats on the powerful rules committee. The Cruz campaign lost votes for both seats.
The rules committee seats have become highly coveted prizes for their role in shaping a contested convention in Cleveland. After the delegates are selected in each state, they meet as a group and pick the members of four convention committees, the most important of which is the rules committee, which will ultimately decide who can be nominated president.
Michigan Cruz leader Saul Anuzis said they were “double-crossed” by Kasich’s campaign. The Kasich delegates were supposed to vote with Cruz delegates, he said, but switched sides and voted with Trump behind closed doors Saturday afternoon.
Kasich’s delegate director in Michigan, Jeff Timmer, said the Cruz campaign broke their end of the deal when they tried to win all eight delegation seats.
He said they finished their slate of Trump and Kasich candidates about 10 minutes before walking into the delegation meeting.
“The Cruz campaign tried a takeover and they failed miserably,” Timmer said. “It backfired and they ended up with nothing. There’s been all these reports about how they’re out-organizing everybody. Not here.”
Trump’s national delegate director, Brian Jack, called it a “big win” for Trump.
“The most important votes occurred this afternoon — we went 5-0. Five delegates for Mr. Trump ran for committee assignments; all five were elected,” Jack said.
He added, “This was a big win for Team Trump. We won 25 delegates from Michigan last month, and now, at least 25 supporters of Mr. Trump will be delegates to the Republican National Convention.
Cruz had a lot better luck in Colorado, where he swept all 33 delegates available at the convention. Meanwhile, Trump’s operation experienced one gaffe after another as they misprinted ballots with their delegates’ names. They also misidentified a delegate and listed two delegates who weren’t even running.
Trump better get his delegate operation going. As the summer approaches, Republican state conventions will be held to determine who actually ends up representing the state at the convention. The Cruz team has proven themselves adept at picking off uncommitted or unbound delegates, adding to his total a little at a time. Cruz is fighting tooth and nail for every available delegate, using the usually arcane rules at state conventions to maximum advantage. These are delegates that are up for grabs and Trump’s campaign has shown themselves a step behind.